Giant Pumpkin Suite (2017, Candlewick Press, Middle Grade Fiction)
From the publisher:
Who are you, if you can’t be what you always expected? A moving coming-of-age tale of prodigy and community, unlikely friendship and growing things.
Twelve-year-old Rose Brutigan has grown seven inches in the last eight months. She’s always been different from her twin brother, Thomas, but now she towers over him in too many ways. The gap in their interests continues to widen as well. Musically talented Rose is focused on winning the upcoming Bach Cello Suites Competition, while happy-go-lucky Thomas has taken up the challenge of growing a giant pumpkin in the yard of their elderly neighbor, Mr. Pickering. But when a serious accident changes the course of the summer, Rose is forced to grow and change in ways she never could have imagined. Along the way there’s tap dancing and classic musicals, mail-order worms and neighborhood-sourced compost, fresh-squeezed lemonade, the Minnesota State Fair — and an eclectic cast of local characters that readers will fall in love with.
Giant Pumpkin Suite, written by Melanie Heuiser Hill, weaves a musical and magical tale of family and friends, and finding one’s true talent. With Rose having a passion for Bach, the story is told with many references to the composer and lots of tidbits and lesser known facts. Fans of math puzzles and music will enjoy this aspect of the writing.
The book is quite long for a middle-grade read and a bit slow to get started which might deter some readers. On the other hand, readers will feel a great sense of accomplishment by finishing such a long book.
In a market that leans heavily toward fantasy and magical realism, it’s nice to see a book planted more firmly in the real world, allowing readers to make more direct correlations between the characters’ lives and their own.
Overall, this book is interesting and well-written, just a bit slow as far as pacing goes. Recommended for readers ages 10 and up.
Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.